Fear of Change (or You’ve Gotten Your Civil Rights All Over My Bigotry)

You can tell the presidential election is right around the corner.  And by that I mean 16 months away.  Already we are inundated with candidates, especially from the right, that seem intent on grabbing headlines and mind space.  What I’ve noticed, not that it is new, is the hate and fear mongering that is going on.  It seems to have ratcheted up significantly over the last few years.

Perhaps we should blame Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.  After all, they masterminded W’s presidency and campaigns and solidified the country behind him.  This was done by fueling the fear that Iraq was ready to bomb the US and was funding/hiding/helping terrorists.  Turns out that none that was true.  But being scared, we overlooked the “mistakes in intelligence” (or lies as they might be called – Colin Powell might have quit because of them, as you may recall).  And then fear became a heavy political tool.

So what do we have today?  Fear that our religious freedoms are being taken away.  Where?  I don’t see it.  Marriage for all?  Ok, don’t perform weddings in your church for a same sex couple.  Do you really believe a gay couple, who KNOW you hate their lifestyle and biology, want to force you to do their wedding?  I don’t think so either.  Let’s be totally honest, your religious bigotry is fine in your home and probably in your church or shed or garage or wherever.  But let’s be frank:

Marriage is a legal contract accorded with rights under the constitution and laws of this nation.

Stop fighting it.  If you really believe you must get divorced so that you can protest what the 9 smartest legal minds in country decided, perhaps it is more curious why you haven’t joined a cult.  David Koresh anyone?  The Moonies?  The Manson Family?  Maybe Heaven’s Gate was more your speed; feel free to restart that one.

And let’s not throw down “the Bible”.  Men wrote it.  It’s been edited and modified many more times over the last 1500 years  than you are probably willing to admit  Let’s stop looking at this novel as sacrosanct.  You want to follow it? Great.  But recall it also has several men with multiple wives.  It contradicts itself.  It’s a book.  The only thing it doesn’t have a T. Rex and Woolly Mammoths.  Ever wonder why?  Me too.

That all being said, I believe in your right to believe what you want.  And other than a piece here now and again, I won’t disparage you in public.  After all, over 70% of the US practices some form of Christianity and only 2% of are Jews.  You know us, the cheap ass money lenders leading the illuminati, right?

But you don’t have a problem with other religions do you?  You afford them the same respect as you would like?  You know, that vocal minority waging “the war on Christmas”.  That’s code for “They are attacking Christianity”.   One of the most ridiculous causes I’ve ever heard.  The overwhelming majority sets the rules.  And in case you forgot, there are no famous, renowned or even discussed Jewish Founding Fathers in US lore.  And there is no attack on Christianity.  But there is a lack of patience for intolerance and institutionalized ignorance.  The world is changing.  Civilization is, in a sense, growing up.

That’s why Fox will bring up “THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS!” every year.  It resonates.  It helps fuel the fear that “their” religion is under attack.  Clearly, Fox spokestool Bill O’Reilly is onto something.  After all, this religious attack is the worst we’ve seen since the holocaust.  No?  I must have been watching the wrong “news” station.  My bad.

What you fear in the night
comes to call in the day anyway
(Duritz, Bryson 1994)

My friend and author Laura Antoniou put it well, “… if you think someone’s religious beliefs trump my civil rights, then you are cordially invited to fuck off.”  I couldn’t agree more.  It is about civil rights.  Not only are we finally righting the wrongs of the South and their war on civil rights for Blacks (150 years in the making mind you) we are also giving everyone civil rights regardless of sexual orientation.  The amount of progress and growth in the last few weeks has been immense.  Or has it?

My favorite whipping boy, the Genius Ted Cruz, thinks that extending those civil rights will hurt the Christian Churches he loves so much.  The Evil Obama IRS is targeting their tax exempt status.  That’s right.  Genius Ted believes that organizations that deny the civil rights of others are to be glorified and guaranteed their tax exempt status.  He is frightened of potential changes brought about by the evil Obama IRS.

In fact, so much so he is also scared for the Jewish Churches.  Yo! Genius!  Jews don’t go to church.  We don’t have churches.  We go to Synagogues and Temples.  Or we go to Shul (an acceptable secondary answer).  I was appalled at his lack of grace and class.  Of course he was talking to Glenn Beck, so my expectations were already quite low.

Let’s ignore the ridiculously large amount of insensitivity toward the Jewish people.  Let’s focus on the fear mongering.  I know I have been concerned over the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status for years.  How else could they afford to pay hush money and settlements to the victims of pedophile priests?  I’m not saying all priests are bad.  Most aren’t and I’m a HUGE fan of Pope Francis.  But since the number of pedophile priests is more than 1, (and honestly it is WAY more than 1) it is too many.

And other religions have their issues as well.  So is creating a worry about tax exempt status important?  Why yes it is.  It allows people to focus on things other than the fact that many organized religions are more concerned with denying others their civil rights and freedoms than they are anything else.  This distracts the conversation.  It’s the political equivalent of yelling “Squirrel!”  It rallies the religious base to ignore what’s really important and move to build a protective wall around their (religious) treasure.  And nothing generates more votes than fear and hate.

For the record, there has not been any targeting of churches’ tax exempt status for this reason yet.  But when the issue was raised in the Supreme Court discussion, it was noted that the continued denial of civil rights could lead to a review of tax exempt status.  That makes sense to me.  If corporations or people deny anyone their civil rights, there is an action taken against them.  Are we to believe that religious entities are above the law?

Yes Virginia, there is freedom of religion in this country, but there is not freedom to break the law.  If your new religion requires human sacrifice and cannibalism should we permit it? (I’m sorry if that hit too close to your beliefs, Scientology.)  Of course not.  The law wasn’t enacted to circumvent religion.  It was enacted to guarantee that all MEN and WOMEN are created equal and allowed the same rights.  Period.  We should not celebrate anyone or anything that believes otherwise.  Next you will tell me Boko Haram kidnapping and killing girls because they dared be educated is allowable.  Stop using religion to shield your small mindedness.  Embrace the golden rule – treat everyone well.  Don’t make exceptions when you don’t or won’t understand others.

In the Dark Ages and other less advanced times, homosexuality and science (!) were considered Satan’s work.  We know that’s not true now.  You can ignore science.  You can dislike the practice of homosexuality.  But we acknowledge the truth of science and we know homosexuality is not a choice.  We are smarter, more educated and more open to the truth of things than we were.  Let’s stop the fear mongering.  Let’s stop the hate speech.  I think it is time for understanding and acceptance.

And you kill what you fear
And you fear what you don’t understand
(Collins, Banks 1980)

Hey Ted!  Boy Genius!  Do you think you could lay off the fear mongering and hate speech? Do you think could work on understanding?  You did go to college, you do have an education.  Keep in mind I will be proposing a Wonderlic Test for politicians.  And why yes, I do think you would score below Vince Young, another famous Texan.  Maybe you could aspire to more?  I don’t think so either.

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Politics, Lies and Hate Oh My! Trump that!

A common meme on the Internet this week is that the Confederate Flag has lost its fight with Skittles.  Cute, but in a sense it diminishes the two major sea changes we’ve just seen.  As a nation, we’ve recognized that the Confederate Battle Flag is a demeaning reminder of slavery and treason (Yes Virginia, secession was treason. I’m glad we can cut the “Northern Aggression” bullshit).  Voices have been heard and it has come down.  If you want to fly it, great, it is your right.  But let’s be honest — most people will see your flag in the same vein that they view Swastika tattoos.  It is not good.

And the Supreme Court verified a few key things this past week, all “Jiggery-Pokery” aside.  The affordable care act was not struck down for the umpteenth time.  Turns out that intent is key.  A misused word should not remove the health care of millions of Americans.  I know it does not affect you, but it affects many.  Get over it.  It is the law and it makes sense.

Speaking of making sense, marriage makes sense, if you want to be married.  There is no gay marriage, there is just marriage.  And while my religious friends may be having a heart attack that their religions are being forced to perform weddings for people they find unfit, they have totally missed the boat as usual.  Marriage started as a religious act so that the Catholic Church could access and control wealth and property.  End of Story.  Today, marriage is as much a legal necessity as anything else.  If you are not married, benefits can’t be had.  Want to visit your lover in the hospital?  It’s a crapshoot.  Want to inherit?  That will better be iron clad.  And those of you that are very religious, calling same sex relationships every nasty name in the book?  They don’t want you to marry them.  Please take your fear mongering to the bunker under your house.  That’s where it belongs.

I was struck this past week by the extreme amount of hate speech I saw this week.  A few key item included:

  • OBAMA Comes of the Closet!
  • Obama is Blackmail Judge Roberts!
  • Obama has corrupted the government – all 3 branches are now legislative!
  • Obama Wants to Take Your Guns Away!
  • Churches are now required to perform wedding ceremonies for same sex couples!
  • Obama is a Dictator with more Executive Orders Than any Other President!
  • Mexico Sends Rapists to the US! (Trump says what everyone is thinking)
  • Our Leaders are Stupid! (Thank you again Donald Trump)

I don’t know about you, but I felt like I was reading The Weekly World News at the check stand.  All that was missing is Michelle Obama is Bigfoot’s Love Slave!  Was there ever any better entertainment than the WWN?

Freedom of speech and civil liberties are cornerstones of our country, I’d never deign to suggest otherwise.  But freedom of speech does not allow one to yell FIRE! In a theater or remove the responsibility for not engaging in slander or libel.  You might not be arrested for your words, but they do have consequences.  You might lose your job. You might lose your friends.  There could be other issues.  Freedom of speech is not a silver bullet.  And yes the Holocaust was real, not matter what the deniers say.

That brings us to my friend Donald Trump.  I’m not sure if I’m more appalled at his bombast, his gall or his belief that people will buy into what he says.  He tells us in his presidential announcement that Mexico sends the US its drug dealers and rapists. And then he’s surprised that the largest Latino network wants to cancel its contract with him.  Good for them.  His threats of lawsuits shouldn’t matter.  His behavior crosses well over the line of decency and there must be consequences.  OJ went free.  I’m pretty sure that Univision, may have to go to court, but they’ll win.  Happily.  The good will they will receive from their audience will far out way the threatened $15 million law suit Trump threatens.

Of course I have another idea.  If I ran Univision, I would show Trumps beauty contests.  Of course I would also send interns to film it.  I’d hire catty mean girls (14-16 years old, of course) to announce it.  I would also run it at 3am, with commercials for the Hot Belt (!) running every 5 minutes to add to the drama.  Perhaps allowing viewers to live tweet pictures of Trump with donkeys and tequila to show on the bottom crawl.  I would accentuate the side show it is.   I think creatively fulfilling this contract might be a better statement than the current pullout.  The opportunity for satire is here, by the burro full.

But back to my main point.  Why do we hate?  Why do we tell ourselves that it is ok to twist the truth into pretzels and then get offended when rational minds question and debate the illogic that is so pervasive today?  I’m not trying to be politically correct.  I am far from PC.  I believe giving every kid who participates a trophy has its roots in a good idea, but the results suck.  I’m tired of hearing “but I tried” as an excuse for failure.  Sometimes it is very clear when people don’t try.  Let’s not be PC.  But can we be responsible? Politically Responsible.  I think the current environment allows too many people to believe they don’t need to be responsible. There are no consequences to their words and attitude.

Today the world is both larger and smaller.  The internet is helping to create a new type of isolationism and it is harmful.   Take a good hard look at what you say, what you promote, what you inspire.  Is it good?  Do you still believe there is a black conspiracy to take down police departments everywhere?    Do you still believe, what you are saying is right and justified?  Perhaps you should stop lying to yourself.

I think it is time to rethink our behavior and attitudes.  It is past time.  I believe we need to differentiate between the political and religious hate mongering that is taking place and freedom of speech.  Take Donald Trump’s latest vomit of hate.  How can we in good conscious not label him as racist? Not hold him accountable for his unsubtle call for others be racist?  Maybe it’s a publicity stunt?  I can’t imagine anyone would vote for him for president.    Honestly, I can’t believe anyone does business with him and I hope every Latin owned or themed business chooses not to do business with him, his businesses and his family.  I bet Ivanka loves burritos.  No Burrito For YOU!

This is the land of opportunity, where all men are created equal.  Where we take in immigrants that others reject (you know The New Colossus), “yearning to be free.”  Let’s be free.  But let’s be responsible.  I don’t recall anyone saying that George W. Bush made a deal with devil to gain the White House.  Nor did I ever hear anyone say Dick Cheney is evil – wait strike that, it is hard to argue that one.  If we are to fulfill our potential and truly be a great nation, a great melting pot of various ethnicities, beliefs and skills, we need to differentiate between what we believe, what’s a lie and what’s inflammatory.  I believe we have too long allowed hate to permeate our way of life and that both taints our achievements and impedes our ability to succeed.  If we are to improve and reach new heights, I believe this concept must be considered.

Allowing this behavior and these lies in the name of free speech are hurtful.  It’s a very nebulous line sometime.  For instance, if Bill O’Reilly believes something it must be true.  He was adamant there is not systemic racism in the US.  It depends what your definition of systemic is.  After all, if Fox, the arbiter of news laden with fair and balanced facts, says there is no racism there must not be any.  It is Fox News, not Fox Opinions, right?  Of course perhaps this is their way of hiding the racial divide that many are trying to breach and close.  Or its ratings.  And yes, there is still systemic racism.  I know it can be hard to see with your head in the sand, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Perhaps the noted diplomat and renowned healer of our times, Donald Trump can help us fix these issues.  You are right, I don’t think so either.  But what the fuck is his endgame?  I he really that egotistical that he believes he can win?  Even Marco Rubio’s kids don’t think so.

Footnotes:

All three branches of government have a hand in determining, making and validating laws.  It is that whole checks and balances thing.  Civics people, High School Civics.

Everyone wants to take your guns away.  This is not the 18th century.  We don’t need guns in every home.  There are exponentially more murders and crimes with citizen owned guns than there are justifiable shootings.  This isn’t the Wild West, no matter what Texans think.  The NRA and its lobby have way too much power.  But everyone else want’s your guns.  Seriously.  Of course the NRA can have too much power here, but does that mean that every other country has it wrong?  Fucking Europeans and their socialistic gun laws.  No wonder every American hates to vacation in London, Paris, Germany.  Not enough guns and shootings. Wait.  L

Obama not only has made fewer executive orders than almost any president of the 35 years, he has the fewest per year of all.  Bush 41 shouldn’t be ignored because he only got 4 years, not 8.  And let’s be honest, Obama didn’t make torture (I’m sorry – enhanced interrogation techniques) legal.  He didn’t stop medical research to appease the religious right.  (By the way, I fully support avoiding certain activities that are contrary to your religious belief.  But since it doesn’t offend mine, please don’t tell me how to live or act.  Impeding medical research on YOUR religious belief is wrong.  You don’t like abortion? Great, don’t get one. I respect that.  But don’t tell someone she can’t because YOU don’t believe in it.  That’s not too neighborly; it is preachy.  I won’t knock on your door to tell you are wrong.  Don’t impact how I can live or act.  It is my right.  Just as your religion is yours.  I may not agree, but I respect it.  Please respect my beliefs and the beliefs of others.)  Of course Obama did sign an order so that we can prepare for climate change.  How does that effect your ability to say “It’s all LIES!” and impact your life?  That’s right it fucking doesn’t.  Ignore climate change.  Ignore what you want.  But don’t get in my way of making this world better.  I’ll let you stay and share.  Remember when you thought lead in the gasoline was a good idea.  I thought not.